Soon-to-be graduate wins 2021 Activist Award
Laura Rabago with students in Thailand, where she taught English as a volunteer with Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE) in summer 2019. (Photo provided by Ms. Rabago.)

Soon-to-be graduate wins 2021 Activist Award

“The thing that I value the most about the International Development Studies major is the opportunities it has provided me, ranging from chances for volunteering to traveling to internships,” says Laura Rabago, who is slated to graduate in December.

UCLA International Institute, June 14, 2021 — International Development Studies major Laura Rabago grew up in Merced, California and followed her sister to UCLA. “My interest in international development was sparked by my experience working on sustainable projects in Southeast Asia the summer after my freshman year,” she says.

“Exposure to global issues like poverty, lack of access to education and unemployment for youth inspired me to take a more active role in finding solutions to the problems that individuals in developing countries face.

Laura was one of two winners of the 2021 IDS Activist Awards, which honors her sustained social activism as an undergraduate. Following multiple volunteer and internship experiences, including a trip to Thailand with Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE) in summer 2019, she created the GIVE at UCLA student association.

“I founded the club with the goal of taking the lessons of leadership, sustainable development and global citizenship that I learned and applying them to my own community,” says Laura, who has served as club president for two years.

“The mission of the club is to empower students to both understand what being a global citizen means, as well as encouraging students to become global citizens through various volunteer activities in our community.”

GIVE at UCLA, she emphasizes, also engages students in activities that promoted the club’s core values of sustainability, global awareness and ethical and responsible volunteering.

“As president, I have coordinated weekly volunteer projects with local organizations such as the L.A. Food Bank, Heal the Bay and Habitat for Humanity. I have also led biweekly discussions and meetings revolving around global issues such as food insecurity, maintaining sustainable lifestyles and traveling responsibly.

“Through partnership with the volunteer organization GIVE,” she adds, “I have also helped coordinate a fundraising event entitled Students4students on the UCLA campus, raising funds to support children’s education in rural communities in Thailand and Laos.”

Reflecting on her studies, Laura says, “The thing that I value the most about the IDS major is the opportunities it provides me, ranging from chances for volunteering to traveling to internships.

“As international development has become more and more of a passion for me, I have come to see the IDS major as an important entryway into the sector. I hope to pursue a career in development following my graduation,” says the young Bruin , who plans on finishing her studies this fall and officially graduating from UCLA in December 2021. 

“It was through my IDS advisors that I learned about the position with the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) that I currently hold. As an intern for the Agency’s Center of Education through the Virtual Student Federal Service program, I have had the chance to co-author a forthcoming USAID published report on the history and evolution of the agency’s youth workforce development programming in developing countries.

Laura has found her 10-month internship with USAID especially valuable because “it allowed me to expand on my studies and also to accumulate a strong foundational knowledge of the implementation side of international development programming, which will prepare me for future opportunities in this sector.”